Public Speaking: Importance and Fundamentals
By Olivia Eller, Account Executive
You are not alone if you have ever dreaded having to give a presentation, speak to a manager, or make a sale. You may be one of the 75% of people with a fear of public speaking. In business communications, public speaking is one of the most important and challenging skills to perfect. However, speaking clearly and convincingly is a sure-fire way of distinguishing yourself in the workplace as a leader and effective communicator. The art of speaking can help professionals boost their confidence and improve their client or company’s image. Much of the fear around speechmaking stems from a lack of confidence in speaking skills and proficiency. When you know the rules, it is much easier to express yourself and impress the person on the other side of the PowerPoint slides.
Here are three fundamental tips on how to improve your oratory skills:
1. Know Your Audience
To plan for any speech or presentation, start by identifying your audience and what they want. Asking the manager for feedback and selling a new product to a big client require radically different approaches to reach the desired result. It is essential to consider your relationship to the audience, their technical knowledge or experience with the subject matter, and their goals for the meeting. When you can pinpoint your audience’s perspective, you can plan for it as well.
2. Prepare Vigorously
Once you have established who the audience is and what they want, it is time to briefly and simply organize all thoughts or ideas. A manager may require a bulleted list of topics or questions, whereas a sales pitch would need a visual presentation and script. It is vital to plan ahead of time, including all relevant information and foreseeing as many questions as possible from the audience. The more you have prepared, the more confident you will be, improving confidence and reducing speaking anxiety.
3. Get and Keep The Audience’s Attention
An excellent public speaking encounter relies on the attention it gets. If your manager or client cannot remember anything that was said, all of that preparation goes to waste. Being confident is a start, but establishing an engaging hook is even more valuable. The meeting should start with an acknowledgment of the audience’s problem or want. Does the manager need someone to work on an important project? Should your client market toward an emerging market segment? By identifying what they need, the audience will be much more likely to listen. At the same time, audience engagement is highest when the attendants do most of the talking and lowest when the presenter speaks the most. So make sure to spend time on questions and interactive participation.
If you can understand your audience’s needs, prepare accordingly, and keep the attention on your points, your public speaking should improve markedly.